Conflict is the basic foundation for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Much of this conflict results from a distinct division of classes and is portrayed through personal relationships, for example the unfriendly relationship between the higher-class Lintons and the lower-class Heathcliff. Conflict is also portrayed by the appearance of characters the setting. The division of classes is based on cultural, economic, and social differences, and it greatly affects the general behaviour and actions of each character.
The setting of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange provides a clear example of social contrast. While the Heights is depicted as simply typical and “domestic,” the Grange is described as a “scene of unprecedented richness”. Each house is associated with behaviour fitting the description. For example, when Catherine is taken into the Grange, she experiences drastic changes, thus going from a “savage” to a “lady”. While at this house, she rises in status, learns manners, and receives great privileges such as not having to work. Heathcliff, on the other hand, learns to classify himself as a member of the lower class, as he does not possess the qualities of those at the Grange.
Catherine’s decision to marry Edgar Linton rather than Heathcliff widens the gap between social classes because Edgar Linton is a wealthy man of high status, and Heathcliff is poor and possesses no assets. Catherine does not consider personal feelings, but instead, she focuses on her outward appearance to society. This is shown when she says, “Edgar Linton will be rich and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood whereas if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars. In Wuthering Heights wealth signifies social class because Catherine strives to achieve high status by marrying the rich man over the poor man.
The story concludes in “resolution and reconciliation”. After Heathcliff’s death, the classes seem to converge and accept one another which is shown by the union of the high-class young Cathy and lower-class Hareton.
Initially Thrushcross Grange is symbolic of Catherine in that it is refined and high-class. Wuthering Heights is symbolic of Heathcliff in the opposite manner. After conflict between the two properties during Heathcliffs range the properties are eventually restored to being peaceful. This symbolises a resolve within the setting.